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of the sin of unbelief, as its direct tendency is “making him a liar.” As a proof of his tender regard to his own veracity, it may not be improper to state, that his holy and incommunicable name “Jehovah,” has a peculiar relation to it. It is taken from his unchangeableness and self-existence, but is mainly applied to him as the fulfiller of his word. Accordingly we hear him declaring, “By my name Jehovah, was I not known to them,” viz. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He had not given any illustrious tokens of his veracity to the fathers; he only promised; it was reserved to the children to behold the accomplishment. We may then lay it down as a rule of universal application, that the more a Christian honours the divine faithfulness in promise, the more fragrant the incense of his offering. “Be it unto thee according to thy faith,” is a great law of prayer. For this we have a full guarantee from our heavenly Advocate, “Whatsoever things ye desire, believe that ye shall receive them, and ye shall receive them.” It is necessary however to remember an important limitation. It is, that promised blessing is alone the proper object of faith. That blind and presumptuous confidence, which spurns at the limits of revealed will, and demands uncovenanted good, deserves any other name than the “faith of God's elect.” There is a second caution connected with the other, which must not be heedlessly attended to. It is, that our faith accord with the nature of the blessing prayed for, and the promise which is its foundation. This requires some illustration. On examining the word of God, we find a certain class of blessings so specifically and absolutely secured, that they are legitimate subjects of petition, without restriction or qualification. Thus every believer is assured on the absolute testimony of God, that he hath made over to him by covenant, and will. most certainly bestow forgiveness of sin, adoption into the heavenly family, perseverance in grace, a safe departure from the world, and life for ever more. In the same manner he hath promised, unconditionally, the preservation of his Church, a succession of faithful witnesses for his truth, a blessing in a greater or less degree upon his ordinances. With respect to all these, faith has no rules, needs no limitations. There are promises, however, of a more general and indefinite complexion, the particular fulfilment of which is under the superintendence of secret sovereignty; and concerning the mode and measure of whose accomplishment nothing can be predi

cated. Such are the promises relating to the degree of growth in grace, sensible joys, freedom from temptation, a triumphant death. Such also are the premises which have respect to the outward state of the Church, its degree of internal prosperity, revivals of religion, &c. These, though equally with the others, “yea, and amen, in Jesus,” require a faith very different. They are indeed encouragements to exertion, and rich resources of consolation, but they furnish no room for the faith of assurance, as to the form of their accomplishment, The only exercise they do require is humble and submissive reliance. Thus we are exhorted to pray for those who hate us; yet we are told, that the prayers of David, in behalf of his enemies, returned to “his own bosom.” In like manner, it is our duty to pray for friends and relatives; yet how many are the pious parents who, in God's mysterious providence, have their prayer only as their reward : It is true, we find mention made in Scripture of a prayer of special faith, which seemed to involve a particular assurance, though it had respect to a general promise. God hath in some cases so prepared the heart, so clearly and sensibly directed the current of its desires to a particular object, and so highly favoured it with manifestations of his face, that his child is made as it were instinctively to exclaim with David, “In this (very) thing will I be confident.” This species of prayer was of frequent occurrence in the apostolic age. It is unquestionably to be regarded as an extraordinary favour conferred only on extraordinary occasions. If e.g. God intends some signal display of his goodness by pouring out his Spirit on his Church, or producing great outward reformation, we may expect that signs and tokens of his coming will be found in the prayers of his people. Thus it was of old, thus immediately prior to the Reformation, and to the same truth, blessed be God, the experience of many of his churches in our land can testify. Nevertheless there is much danger in the application of it as a general principle. Like God's law, it is good, if a man use it lawfully; otherwise it is fraught with innumerable evils. In fact, it is to the abuse of this very truth, we must attribute much of the unhappiness which marks the life of a certain class of Christians: being, in the goodness of God, savoured with a comfortable measure of enjoyment in devotion, they are too much in the habit of resolving it into special prayer; especially if something more than usual burdened their mind; e.g. the sickness of a savourite child, worldly disappointments, &c. Accordingly they look impatiently to the result; their expectations are perhaps blasted; and the consequence is, that if they do not go mourning all their days, yet their faith is shaken for a time, and divine communion is suspended. Hence, in the natural course of things, hard speeches, doubting interrogations, and the exclamation, “God hath forsaken me.” But, dangerous as we consider the principle, when adopted

in full latitude as a guide, it involves a lesson of universal use. It is this, The nearer we can approach to that special faith which produces special prayer, the better are our grounds of confidence that God graciously intends to answer us. Never let this blessed truth be forgotten; never let the encouragement to be derived from it be unimproved. Let it stimulate the Christian to the duty of serious self-examination. Let it rouse him to the use of appointed means; to earnest supplications for the influences of the Holy Spirit, that “his faith may grow exceedingly.” As a mean, peculiarly adapted for this purpose, we would advise him to refresh his mind with a cursory recollection of divine promises and past experiences of the Lord's faithfulness, immediately before the performance of devotional duty. The effects of such a general habit are utterly incalculable.— He would, by this means, be able to dissipate the cloud of unbelief with which worldly cares have a tendency to overspread the mind. Strengthened by a full perception, both of what he needs, and what he has a right to expect, he would

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enter the divine presence with composedness and serenity, and gather confidence on every new approach. For the same reason, the Christian will find it of much account to be “frequent in prayer.” As nothing is so well calculated to beget confidence among earthly friends, as habitual and constant intercourse, so nothing is so well adapted to destroy slavish terror, and produce the grace opposed to it, as frequency of approach to the mercy-seat. The young Christian (it is somewhere remarked) is like Moses, when he first beheld the face of God on Horeb, scarcely able to bear the lowest of his manifestations:—The old Christian, like Moses, when he received the law on Sinai, able to look on Him, though arrayed in His most transcendent glories. Among the many explanations that may be given of the boldness and faith which distinguished illustrious David, let us not forget his turning seven times a day to God’s “Holy Temple.” 2dly. All acceptable prayer must be conducted in the “name of Christ;” i. e. with a full reliance on his merit and righteousness, as the only foundation of audience and acceptance. “Whatsoeverye ask in my name—ye shall receive it.” It has been already remarked, that the distinguishing excellence of the gospel of grace is displayed in the provision which it makes for glorifying all the attributes of the divine character. In this respect it may be emphatically styled the “Manifold wisdom of God.” From everlasting Jehovah determined to be propitious to sinners. Before this determination could be executed, means must be adopted for preserving inviolate the honour of his law and unalterable equity. “Mercy and truth must meet together;” and if grace reign, it must “reign through righteousness.” Vain, therefore, would have been ali the hopes of sinners, unless the energies of infinite wisdom had been exerted to discover an expedient. The question, Whether God might be gracious without a satisfaction to his law, is, we think, easily answered. From his own nature, and the representations of his word, we are authorized to assert, without any qualification, It is impossible. Between sin and divine anger, i. e. will to punish, there is an indissoluble con

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56 - EVANGELICAL GUARDIAN

nexion. Take away sanction, and you destroy the essence of

law. With this harmonizes his own solemn declaration, “I will by no means clear the guilty.” “The soul that sinneth shall die.” “I will surely avenge, saith the Lord.” Let not these observations be deemed foreign to the point. They are of importance, to explain the design and signification of the name of Christ, in our approaches to God. Prayer is a gospel duty, and only acceptable when conducted on gospel principles. If it be so, that God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines into our hearts only in the face of Jesus Christ: If it be so, that in Jesus Christ, and him only, God is well pleased, and listens to the voice of our supplications, Christian reader, how deeply are you interested in making mention of his righteousness, and his only This is not a new truth. Being the foundation of all Christian worship, and spiritual converse with God, it has not been held back from the church in any period of her existence. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and Aaron; all that holy band of “whom the world was not worthy,” lived in its faith, and in its faith they died. They recognized in Jacob's ladder the illustrious Messiah, the only medium of intercourse between heaven and earth, on which their prayers ascended as ambassadors of peace to the throne of the Eternal, and on which they returned laden with royal bounty. They recognized him in Moses, the mid-man between God and Israel. To the mercy-seat, day by day, they turned their longing eyes, for the mercy-seat was Christ. . It is a common opinion among expositors, that the argument, with which the ancient saints generally commenced or concluded their petitions taken from “God’s name,” has a direct relation to the person of Christ, Psalm coxx. 4. Isaiah xlviii. 9. This is probable—for the name of God is that by which He is known. Now, as He discovers himself to sinners only in his Son, there is every reason to suppose, that the term abovementioned was intended as one of his official and personal titles. An example of the same kind we have in the term Logos, which, in the New Testament, has frequently all the 3 virtue of a proper name. But, blessed be God, the propo

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